*It has four Golden Globe noms, 5 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards noms, and 5 NAACP Image Award noms.
Ava DuVernays‘ critically acclaimed, ‘Selma’ opens nationwide this Friday and leading man David Oyelowo sat down with EUR to share how Oprah helped him with this challenging role.
EUR: We heard Oprah wasn’t convinced you could portray Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?
David Oyelowo: Oprah Winfrey and I had done “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” together and had become very good friends after that and I told her about this desire of mine to play Doctor King and I showed her this tape of me doing it…The thing that is beautiful about her is, she said to me, ‘aww, it’s alright, it’s alright, aww, I can see it, I can see it but you got to go DEEPER!’ She could see it and she said, ‘I want to try to help you get there.’ From that moment on she would just call me randomly from far away parts of the planet and say, ‘what are we doing about that film?’ As we started to gain momentum, it was like come join us! The minute she did, she gave us rocket fuel.
Ava DuVernay: She’s not half way with anything. She is on full turn-up mode. That’s what she kept saying, ‘TURN UP!’ She is into the details of every single piece. Anything we needed she was there. When I say, ‘into the details,’ it is in the best way…not overbearing or all in your business, just a supportive rock.
Ava DuVernay: We wanted to make him relatable to everyone. He is a statue, he is a speech, he is a holiday…but he was a man and that’s what we don’t know. We had to deconstruct all that iconography and get to the real brother from Atlanta…whose daddy was a preacher, whose granddaddy was a preacher, who really didn’t want to be a preacher, who met this fine sister in Boston, who was enlisted by a church in Montgomery, who really wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. A guy who has to take out the trash for his woman, while she’s looking at him like where you been…all that stuff is REAL!
Ava DuVernay: We didn’t. We made sure the King family was aware of the film and we shared the script with them. David has become friendly with a couple of the children of Dr. King and we went about as independent artist to tell the story we wanted to tell.
David Oyelowo: What is beautiful about this is, Dexter King has become a friend of mine. When I met him for the first time, his wife actually said, ‘look it’s the actor who looks like your dad.’ Then I met Bernice King and she was a little skeptical about the whole thing but after she heard my heartfelt approach, she prayed for me and gave me her blessing.